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Learning static Gestalt laws through dynamic experience




The Gestalt laws (Wertheimer 1923) are widely regarded as the rules that help us parse the world into objects. However, it is unclear as to how these laws are acquired by an infant's visual system. Classically, these “laws” have been presumed to be innate (Kellman and Spelke 1983). But, more recent work in infant development, showing the protracted time-course over which these grouping principles emerge (e.g., Johnson and Aslin 1995; Craton 1996), suggests that visual experience might play a role in their genesis. Specifically, our studies of patients with late-onset vision (Project Prakash; VSS 2006) and evidence from infant development both point to an early role of common motion cues for object grouping. Here we explore the possibility that the privileged status of motion in the developmental timeline is not happenstance, but rather serves to bootstrap the learning of static Gestalt cues. Our approach involves computational analyses of real-world motion sequences to investigate whether primitive optic flow information is correlated with static figural cues that could eventually come to serve as proxies for grouping in the form of Gestalt principles. We calculated local optic flow maps and then examined how similarity of motion across image patches co-varied with similarity of certain figural properties in static frames. Results indicate that patches with similar motion are much more likely to have similar luminance, color, and orientation as compared to patches with dissimilar motion vectors. This regularity suggests that, in principle, common motion extracted from dynamic visual experience can provide enough information to bootstrap region grouping based on luminance and color and contour continuation mechanisms in static scenes. These observations, coupled with the cited experimental studies, lend credence to the hypothesis that static Gestalt laws might be learned through a bootstrapping process based on early dynamic experience.

Author(s): Yuri Ostrovsky and Jonas Wulff and Pawan Sinha
Journal: Journal of Vision
Volume: 7
Number (issue): 9
Pages: 315--315
Year: 2007
Month: June
Publisher: ARVO

Department(s): Perceiving Systems
Bibtex Type: Article (article)
Paper Type: Abstract

DOI: 10.1167/7.9.315
URL: http://www.journalofvision.org/content/7/9/315.abstract


  title = {Learning static Gestalt laws through dynamic experience},
  author = {Ostrovsky, Yuri and Wulff, Jonas and Sinha, Pawan},
  journal = {Journal of Vision},
  volume = {7},
  number = {9},
  pages = {315--315},
  publisher = {ARVO},
  month = jun,
  year = {2007},
  url = {http://www.journalofvision.org/content/7/9/315.abstract},
  month_numeric = {6}